Monday, September 29, 2008

OFF the EDGE filmmaking – show 18 - Festivus Film Festival

In this podcast, I hang out with Johnathan McFarlane, the director of the Festivus Film Festival which is coming up on its second year. This is a great up-and-coming festival with a lot of fun activities in and around the main event that make it a unique experience for filmmakers and attendees alike.

Their second annual film festival runs from January 8-11, 2009 with screenings at two really cool historical theatres, the Bug Theatre and the Oriental Theater.

There's still time to enter - Late deadline 10/19, WAB extended deadline 11/9 – so be sure to get your entries to them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

OFF the EDGE filmmaking – show 17 – RoomMate Productions

In our latest podcast, Jeremy and I chat with Chad Bring and Eric Dwight of RoomMate Productions where we discuss their various projects, past, present and future.

Check out their work and latest info at

Check out Chad's new writer resource page at

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Kansas International Film Festival – Day 3 – Sunday 9/21

Day three started off the way every Sunday should start. With some Jack Stack BBQ. After huge plates of food, it’s usually a good idea to get out and walk around so we headed down to downtown KC and cruised through Westport, then over to the annual Summer Arts Festival. Tons of people were out enjoying the perfect weekend weather so it was great weaving and bobbing through the throngs. After plenty of walking and viewing, we headed back to Overland Park for our last film of the weekend, “Familiar Strangers.” We’d talked to the producer Friday night at one of the VIP parties and after hearing about the filming process, we felt compelled to go check out his film. We weren’t disappointed and we were treated to a sold out and enthusiastic audience, and a great film, much in the feel of films like “Juno” and “Little Miss Sunshine.” The Q&A after the film was a lot of fun as well and it was a great way to close out our festival weekend.

One of the highlights from the weekend was the screening of “The Flyboys” on Saturday. We knew the film very well (those of you in the know, know that we world premiered it at OFF’08) so it was cool to see that they were in Kansas as well. Since we’d seen it so many times, we didn’t watch it again, but we popped in after the film we were watching and caught the Q&A with one of the producers. It was great to hear about the progress of the film over the last seven months (51 festival awards since we saw them last) and it was great catching up with him after the Q&A as well. Awesome film. If you’ve seen it you know, if you haven’t, keep an eye out for it. You won’t be disappointed.

Props again to the KIFF staff; you guys always do a fantastic job and you always have a great line-up of films. The crowds were great this year and everything ran smoothly and professionally and we were treated great as always. This was the third year in a row that we’ve attended, and we will go back every year.

Kansas International Film Festival – Day 2 – Saturday 9/20

There’s no hot tub here, so we settled for the pool to start the day. Other than the creepy onlookers, it was a delightful experience and the water was nice and warm. After that the first thing on the agenda was to once again look for the best BBQ that KC has to offer. Every time we come here, we ask the locals where the best is, and every time we get a different answer. Sometimes a consensus is achieved, but that’s somewhat rare. This time we found an ad in the yellow pages and in the ad they list their “highest rated” status from 2005, 2006 and 2007 according to Zagat, so we figured it had to be good, right? So we trekked out to Oklahoma Joe’s and were surprised to find that it was actually attached to a gas station. Hmm. Well, we’d driven this far, so we had to check it out. Amazing. We all got samplers so we could try a bunch of stuff out and it was absolutely fantastic. Highly recommended, and when we got there at 11:00, we saw a steady influx of people and by noon the place was packed. I wish I had a fridge in the car, cuz we would have had a ton of leftovers.

So we got to the festival in time for the first round of screenings and caught the family drama ”The Rainbow Tribe,” a film about 6 wayward kids going away to summer camp, and their counselor who’s going through a significant issue in his life. It was a great film and the writer gave a great Q&A. We had a chance to chat with him a bit after and it sounded like it was a fun project to work on, and it was somewhat therapeutic since a lot of the story came from his personal experiences. The parents of the person that inspired the story were there in the audience, so there was certainly some emotion there.

Film number two was “The Art of Travel” which was a drama about a guy who ends up going on his honeymoon by himself due to an interesting series of events and the next two hours of the film show the main character going through a couple of years of personal and “travel” discovery. Interesting film with a ton of incredible visuals filmed around the world.

The last film I had a chance to see what “Harold” which was a comedy about a 13-year-old Jr. High kid who has male pattern baldness and the experiences that he goes through. The film stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and there were a ton of Saturday Night Live alum in the film and Colin Quinn was there in the audience and did the Q&A afterward. It was a pretty fun movie going experience and the audience responded well to it.

Pretty good day two. Day three only has a couple of films on the docket before we make the big trek back to Omaha.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kansas International Film Festival - Day 1 - Friday 9/19

Yes, the drive to Kansas City was a lot easier than the drive the Estes Park. 2 ½ hours and we’re there. Piece of cake. We left work at 11:00am and got on the road right away so we had plenty of time to check into the hotel (thanks Settle Inn) and hit the festival early to get our badges and talk to the staff. It’s nice being recognized since we’ve been here three years in a row so everything went smoothly.

Our first film of the day was “Mona” and the producer/actor Alex Lyras was in attendance and had a great Q&A after the film. The audience was one of the most intelligent audiences I’ve seen at a KIFF event and there was about 20 minutes of interesting conversation regarding the film and its influences. Fun film and fun screening.

Film number two was “Choke” which was adapted from the novel of the same name written by Chuck Palahniuk, writer of the book “Fight Club” and starring Sam Rockwell. The film is certainly not for the conservative among us, but it was an interesting watch and the audience was enthusiastic and laughed a lot. The film will get theatrical release next week so it was cool to be able to see the film before the rest of the country.

The after party was a great time as well. We ended up staying out way too late (of course) and it was a great time and a great opportunity to chat with filmmakers and have some fancy snacks.

Saturday has a full slate of films (I’ve got five selected) and I anticipate at least one BBQ stop. We’re in KC… like we’re not going to find some good BBQ.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Home Sweet Home – the road less travelled

A gallon of gas in Estes Park, Colorado - $4.19

All-you-can-eat Indian buffet in downtown Estes Park - $8.95

An entry pass into the Rocky Mountain National Park - $20.00

Purchasing a Nebraska shirt from former national champion Husker punter Jesse Kosch in one of the two Husker stores in Estes Park - $24.95

Meeting and hanging out with awesome filmmakers, festival directors and audience members – PRICELESS

Okay, so it’s a little cliché, but it’s a nice encapsulation of the last couple of days. We had a tremendous time at the third annual EPFF and in spite of the 9 hour drive and the fact that I have to be up and at work in about 5 hours, I’m still upbeat.

One of the many highlights of the screening of “The HIT” was having the opportunity to meet Mark and Jami, the parents of Adam O’Rourke, the lead actor in the film. They made the trip from North Platte, all the way into Estes Park to see the film, so it was awesome to see them, and to have them support the film.

It was also great talking to filmmakers and audience members after the screening and hearing all of the positive comments about the film. Huge props again to all that helped with the film and helped make it something that people enjoy watching.

The trip back home was a lot of fun. We got some pretty cool video footage and took a ton of great photos. And we stopped at a chic-fil-e! How awesome is that?!

And in a sad note… my condolences to all of the remaining family members of the 2.5 billion bugs that smashed on the front of our vehicle along interstates 76 & 80. May they rest in pieces in the various gas station squeegee receptacles that we stopped at along the way.

OFF the EDGE filmmaking – show 16 - Estes Park Film Festival

I had a chance to sit down with Sean and Cliff, the directors of the Estes Park Film Festival, from their cozy office in downtown Estes Park. It was a great opportunity to unwind a bit, right after their awards ceremony.

Awesome festival…highly recommended!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Estes Park Film Festival – Day 3 – Sunday 9/14

Today started like any other day. Hot tub. A dip in the pool. A relaxing drive out to the mountains where we saw Elk (from a few feet away) and snow (which was even closer). In a 20 minute drive, the temperature dropped as many degrees and we sloshed through the snow and got some amazing photos. Not your typical Nebraska scenery. Then back to town for some all you can eat Indian food. Not a bad way to start your day. The festival got started at 2:30 with a documentary (which sadly we missed) but we were able to sneak in at the end and listen to the Q&A. After hearing the filmmakers talk about their film, I’m really looking forward to getting a screener of it and checking it out for myself. After that, we left the theater and were greeted with a packed sidewalk, all anxious and ready to see the short film block at 4:30. Several of the filmmakers that I’d met over the last few days were there, and there were four filmmakers for that short block that were in attendance so it was a great opportunity for everyone to see each other’s films for the first time.

Film block #3 had eight films and the block kicked off with “The HIT.” The audience really seemed to enjoy it and laughed and gasped at all the right times. It even got two rounds of applause and a few approving nods from folks in the audience that knew who I was.

The other films in block #3 were extremely well received as well and the packed house responded enthusiastically to all of the films. After the films were over, the five of us filmmakers got on stage and did a Q&A and every film had audience questions, so the mic time was pretty evenly distributed. It’s always cool to talk to an audience of appreciative movie goers.

After the Q&A, everyone exited the theatre while the festival volunteers set up the closing night party and we were all treated to a wonderful dinner. Our good buddy Tom (see previous post) was the caterer and we had some incredible Italian food. After the meal, everyone filtered back into the theatre for the awards ceremony. All but one of the winning filmmakers were in attendance, so it was great to hear all of the acceptance speeches. I won’t publish a full list, but the winning feature was “Broken Fences,” the winning documentary was “Beauty Mark,” the winning student film was “Coons,” and the winning short was “The Quickie” (my predicted winner).

After the awards ceremony, they screened their last film of the festival, the documentary “The Listening Project.” Since we’d already seen the film (screened at OFF’08) we snuck out and I took the opportunity to do an interview with Sean and Cliff, so be sure to look for that in an upcoming OFF the EDGE filmmaking podcast. And while we were talking, I recognized the look in their eyes. I see it every year on the last day of OFF. Awesome festival fellas. Pat yourselves on the back.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Estes Park Film Festival – Day 2 – Saturday 9/13

Hot tubs and swimming pools. That’s how every day should start out. After a relaxing morning at the hotel, we headed out to the huge summer arts fair that’s going on in Estes Park (not my idea, trust me). After checking all of that out and having a little breakfast, we went to our first EPFF event, which was a filmmaker’s panel. All of the filmmakers that were in town got up on stage and it gave the audience an opportunity to have a Q&A with all of them. I was on stage with 11 other filmmakers and we talked for about an hour-and-a-half and we got a ton of great questions from the audience. Fun way to start a festival day.

In addition to the Estes Park folks, over the last few months online I’ve been talking to Johnathan, the director of the Festivus Film Festival in Denver, so he came up and hung out for a few hours. We went in and watched short film block #2 then we had some fantastic sandwiches at Deleo’s Park Theater Café & Deli. If you’re ever in Estes Park, I recommend it highly. Pop in and see Tom and tell him Marc from the OFF sent you.

Be sure to check out the Festivus Film Festival as well. I really like what they’re trying to do… a little different than you typical film festival. We had a chance to do a little interview too, so keep an eye out for that on our OFF the EDGE filmmaking podcast.

There were a couple of other films that I wanted to check out too, but we had such a great time chatting with filmmakers and the festival directors, we didn’t make it in to any of the other screenings.

Very much of a successful day. Tired, but ready for another day. Day three will have the screening of “The HIT.” Sweet!

Estes Park Film Festival – Day 1 - Friday 9/12

Day one has been great so far. After driving most of the day we got to the theatre right when the opening night party was starting so we got checked in and started partying. There was a great crowd and the lobby of the theatre was packed as everyone chatted and snacked on finger food and enjoyed the free wine at the open bar. I had a chance to meet Sean and Cliff, the two directors of the EPFF, as well as a handful of the filmmakers that were in attendance.

The film “Broken Fences” was the opening night film and three of the main cast as well as the writer/director and two other crew members were in attendance. The film has played at 15 film festivals across the country and has won 4 awards so it was a great way to kick off our weekend. They got up and did a great Q&A afterward and the audience seemed enthusiastic about the film.

After the film we headed over to the Holiday Inn to check in then headed back out to some of the after party spots where I had a chance to meet and hang out with several of the other filmmakers in attendance. So far, all of the filmmakers I’ve met have been from the Colorado area and/or have strong Colorado ties and many of them have attended previous EPFF’s and had nothing but great things to say about it.

Day one is in the books and I’m calling it a success.

6:00am – 11:00am - work
12:00pm – 7:00pm driving across Nebraska and Colorado
7:00pm – 8:30pm – opening night party at the historic Park Theatre in Estes Park
8:30pm – 10:00pm – “Broken Fences” opening night film
10:00pm – 12:30am – post party at a couple of different places

So, yeah, a pretty long day, and we’re ready for day number two.

Monday, September 08, 2008

OFF the EDGE filmmaking – show 15

This week Marc and Jeremy talk about their upcoming film festival trips and Marc makes a big announcement: His film “Heart of the City,” written and directed by Jeff Saxton, got accepted into the Great Lakes Independent Film Festival. (Marc was a producer and the AD)

The GLIFF runs from September 25th through the 28th.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

“Heart of the City” at the Great Lakes Film Festival

Our first feature film “Heart of the City” is an official selection in the Great Lakes Film Festival, running from September 25th through the 28th. If you’re in the Erie, PA, go check out the film!

Huge congratulations to writer/director Jeff Saxton!

More details to come as they are available.
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